Minneapolis officer found guilty of assaulting unconscious woman

Thomas Robert Tichich
A jury of eight women and four men found Minneapolis police officer Thomas Tichich, 49, guilty of third degree criminal sexual conduct. Tichich also was convicted of attempted sexual assault.
Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

A jury of eight women and four men say Minneapolis police officer Thomas Tichich, 49, is guilty of third degree criminal sexual conduct.

Tichich also was convicted of attempted sexual assault. Tichich, who was escorted by deputies from the courtroom, will be held in custody while he awaits sentencing. He faces a possible sentence of 48 months.

"I respect the judicial process and the decision made by the jury," Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Thursday. Tichich's conduct is "beyond concerning" and shouldn't be seen as a reflection of the rest of the department, he said. "We will continue to focus on increasing public trust in light of this troubling case."

Tichich was hired by the Minneapolis Police Department on Nov. 27, 2006, and his last date of employment is April 26, 2018, Arradondo said, adding he was unable to comment further on Tichich's employment status.

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The officer was not on duty and was not in uniform on the night of Dec. 14, 2016 when he was out drinking at a northeast Minneapolis bar. There he met the woman and the woman's friend. The women both knew Tichich. The woman used to date Tichich's police partner.

According to testimony in the trial, the woman was too drunk to drive home, so her friend invited her home to sleep on her couch. Tichich came along too.

In closing arguments yesterday assistant Hennepin county Attorney Patrick Lofton said Tichich "made his intentions clear. He was going to have sex with someone."

Lofton said after Tichich was rebuffed by the friend, he went after the one woman in the house who couldn't say no.

The victim's friend testified that she walked in on Tichich standing naked over the victim, took a few pictures and told him to get out. In her 911 call, which was played to jurors during the trial, the woman said her friend was passed out drunk and not consenting to the activity.

Lofton referred to the testimony of experts during the trial who estimated the alleged victim's blood alcohol content to be two to three times the legal limit at the time.

Defense attorney Peter Wold said the state didn't provide any evidence that the alleged victim was unconscious or helpless.

"There's a basket full of reasonable doubt," said Wold, referring to testimony from a defense witness who said it was possible the alleged victim went through periods of being awake and being asleep, because she had amphetamines in her system.

Lofton countered that the amount of amphetamine in her system was not considered medically excessive.

Prosecutors have said Tichich's profession is not germane to the charges of third degree criminal sexual conduct and attempted third degree criminal conduct. But his position as a police officer did apparently shape the actions of the people around him.

In body-worn camera video recorded by one of the officers who responded to the scene, the woman appears confused, angry and scared. She seemed particularly afraid that Tichich will lose his job over this, and other police officers will blame her. She said she worked at a bar and restaurant frequented by Minneapolis cops.

"I'm going to lose my job," she said, sobbing.

But she could have stopped this all, said Lofton. All she had to do, said Lofton, is to tell her friend and the police who responded is that she agreed to 'hook up' with Tichich. "But she didn't. Because it didn't happen."

Wold said the only two people who really know what happened are Tichich and the woman, who said she doesn't remember anything that happened after she went to sleep on the couch. Wold said it's not her fault that she doesn't remember, "it's a failure of proof," he said. "That's all."

Wold asked jurors to give Tichich the benefit of the doubt.